tv Book Discussion on Plenty of Time When We Get Home CSPAN March 18, 2014 9:24pm-10:17pm EDT
rumsfeld. there were plans of the shelf at centcom but was under different commander. he was o.k. so the military did give their best advice but the bigger issue is how can we train and educate our leaders to give better advice? this goes to the professional military education system that counts with the officer's career as a way station. >> final south korea and iraq.
that ocher at the university level that are affordable and accuse them as long as we treat or cure them to have a solution to the health care problem because health insurance coverage will provide coverage but when it comes to drugs in the premiums and subsidies where are the subsidies going to come from? they don't just get the dollars out of the trees they have to pay for that and the economy is the science. if we don't deal with a better system of understanding how to take care of our own then there
allow me to express my profound regret for being late to interview ran late then the fun experience travelling on the beltway that babies more stressful because you are not allowed to carry a weapon. [laughter] as mentioned i am also a veteran and before i get started by want to take a brief moment to thank you for coming. i appreciate you taking the time to get out before we are inundated with snow to have fun before we get started and it to all the troops and veterans in the room, welcome home, and to all the military families, thank you for your service as well. i enlisted in 2000 although i knew i read the fine print that the army went to war if did not seem like a possibility.
i was assigned arabic and studying and at the defense language institute online 11 and was immediately apparent why military career would be profoundly different and no longer a question whether or not i would go to war but when and where. i was with the initial invasion of iraq part of the 101st airborne division in aerosol cans after spending time in baghdad without as a woman soldier i surely would not have needed them. we pushed farther north and eventually i was put on the listening post on the side of the mountain the only female soldier with seven male soldiers and remove to the other side later maybe 20 or 30 men i was the only female soldier for several months so relative isolation.
then i met a tall handsome nco in charge of the observation post they were proud to call themselves fire support team i thought he was funny and handsome, witty, a sarcastic, smart, but iraq is not romantic we could not start dating or go clubbing so any sorts of flirtation was very gruff and not sent at all the gentle romantic flirtations you may imagine at home. one night on the side of the mountain i confess i wanted to get to know him better if he said there was plenty of time later but not too much launder his convoy was hit one of the first really coordinated attack sell later came to be known as
the insurgency but we just wondered what the hell was going on. shrapnel injured below the kevlar on the right side of his head and exited the we are here is a right i. for three days we were told to do not expect him to survive you was medically evacuated luckily to baghdad where he had narrow surgery as chance would have it the same one that operated on bob woodward's then was evacuated to germany then back to walter reed. i stayed in iraq and completed my mission and heard from brian a few months later with an e-mail that was full of the typos and punctuation and and spelling errors that people slip into a so i let it go.
he is just being lazy and did not have any sense of a traumatic brain injury and when he said the looks like i will be okay eyes to that at face value. these were the early days of some of war. that we would not think then but they were. the systems and services of the returning wounded warriors needed were not in place. when he recovered to a point that as the doctors told him he could walk in and talking and by his own ass he was released and sent back to fort campbell. he got there two weeks before the rest of the division and we started dating. why a plane landed february february 8th such just over one decade ago and there were signs then i'm
sure of his cognitive and psychological problems but i was pretty distracted by my own reintegration and did not necessarily notice them and we were busy partying and drunk and staying up all night with one block leave so with that heavier the time when we were just thrilled to be alive and getting drunk a lot did not notice what was coming. we were deeply and emotionally involved. then i started to go back to work and had to get up bright and early to go do my job and training soldiers to get ready to redeploy in brian's unit told him to stay home. he was still early enough in the recovery that he was not allowed to wear head gear where the shunt would enter he still had to get is head
shaved by specially trained people and his the gse severe enough he cannot carry a weapon and with his ptsd you get us special piece of paper so on his profile it says you cannot carry a weapon and. his leadership said you cannot wear head gear or carry a weapon and you were freaking out the new guys because you are a disaster so stay home. this is not the army that i knew they'd have to a show of for accountability so i was surprised nobody was checking up on him. as the loss is the identity as the leader of soldiers his job, his place and questioning his ability to have a future, he spiralled deeper and deeper into depression, ptsd and
everything fell apart. he was not cognitively able to pay his bills or take care of himself for manage his own life and trying to self medicate the profound psychological pain he was feeling with whatever was handy. that did not work but it took a long time for him to figure that out. somehow i stuck with him through this people ask me how and i have to be honest i am still not sure but with a lot of patience and commitment and love we stayed together, got married , he did heal and we have been able to forge a new life together. i tell that story in this book colada of the early reviews focus on the fact i
am very honest about the worst parts of that recovery. some of the terms people are freaking out because they focus on my honesty of those bad stages it is a story of hope and healing and recovery and a love it is a love story about how my husband came back from profound injury profound institutional injury and deep physiological cognitive wounds to be the man he is today, a loving husband and father to start using his gi bill benefits to go back to college this semester that is an exciting new adventure. the messages that i really appointed to get out that i am convinced anyone who
reads this book will live sort is the effects are not broken. this is taking root in the popular media narrative that they are unemployed homicidal homeless better screwed up and for many veterans although not all the process of reintegration of healing can be difficult. with proper services and support it can happen and there is a new normal weekend the contributing members of society invaluable editions and fantastic employees higher as. we are fantastic. the other message i want to share is care givers are not saints. i have this sense that
people believe those of us who choose to stand by wounded warriors that we are perfect and do no wrong see and lovingly by a our men or women and that is not true. i did not always do a good job. i got a angry and you're not supposed to get eight free at a hero or lose your temper as someone who was blown up serving his country but i am human being. i have a lot of those feelings i am not always proud of a and i did not always handle things well. one time when i was really, really increase at how badly he was managing our lives together, and missing appointments and could not keep track of anything and things were awful. i did not have the ability to say that to him i am
afraid i can never have children because you are so screwed up. i could not tell him those things i was really a angry about so one day he was holding the refrigerator door open taking what he wanted to each. open and open and open and i lost it and started to kick him in the shin why he hates to the environment. that makes sense for grubb was not even pregnant. [laughter] to be honest i am the person although i did stick with him as a difficult times, i am not a saint i did not mail a cross to myself that i have my own foibles. also to make sure there are resources out there to help. if you are a loved one that is struggling you can call the veterans crisis line 24
hours a day. if your spouse is struggling with ptsd and becomes blind in -- violin called the domestic violence hotline should not suffer in silence or a loan and if you look for a way to serve veterans in your local community use the national resources directory of mine -- online if you are a military family member look up to lose our families online to see the wonderful resources they help to have military families. i am not supposed to talk for too long to give you the opportunity to ask questions or have tried to make a lot of ways available to connect with me and the book and my story follow me on twitter, of facebook, my
website, look me up on teesixteen here's the play list so you can hear the music was listening to as this was going on. i am happy to open for questions let me warn you if you do not ask questions my a book club can tell you i am good at talking i will continue to run off with things that interest me. [applause] so please ask some questions arrival start reading from the book. somebody is coming. [laughter] >> i don't even know how long i talked.
trying to squeeze 30 minutes into however fast i can talk. >> i am a reader of said "doonesbury" comic strip did he ever contact you? i keep thinking about it while you are talking. it is about characters that did what you did. >> i love his trip as well. he has done a great job to bring his sexual assaults in the military which is a topic people don't want to talk about a and a character with a traumatic brain injury as well. we were in touch with my first book so i sent him a copy of the new one last week so i hope he enjoys that. thank you.
>> i just want to say first of all, i read your first book that an important time of my life and it motivated me to get off my but into scenes with the world. think you. also you said things about the idea of the veterans been broken. i will confess as a civilian i know there is a civilian military / 12 bridges in a way but not in day patronizing way even though accidentally. so what this should we know? how do we bridge the divide? >> it is a tough question that people are struggling with. i read a great piece the other day that the author said civilians, quit saying you can understand because
we go to movies and we read books about things that are totally outside of our current understanding all the time. ancient history, space aliens, we put our minds into situations we cannot connect with on a regular basis. when you talk to a fad -- a veteran i cannot imagine imagine, that increases the divide. try to imagine and put yourself there, read books, of logs, the there are a lot of choices out there a growing number of voices and try to connect with what people are saying. there is some exciting fiction being written as well. when you have friends in the military who are veterans, be willing to listen don't ask them if they ever killed anyone that is considered tacky in the military community but let
them know you are willing to listen and one of the things i encourage people to do in those situations, a lot of vets struggling with ptsd they have a hard time with site contacts but sitting around and drinking is the bad coping mechanism so instead of saying. >> guest: did have a beer save you want to go for a hike or other activity where somebody can walk with you to share the story without the pressure of having to stare directly at your eyes to have the temptation to over indulge with alcohol. >> thank you for writing your book and talking to us. i was in the kentucky at the time the war started in and talking to people from fort campbell.
some of the things that we wrote about her they were the worst case examples of the military not doing a good enough job for mental health treatment to those that needed it. but has that changed at all? i am thinking of fort bragg or where people came back they were afraid to use the kelp because they are blacklisted. has that changed? >> i think a lot of progress was made. my husband was injured 2003 and when i was reading the book by a track down his neurosurgeon and narrow psychiatrist or psychologist, one of the other providers and asked and i asked what happened? how did this happen? how did he slips through the?
he said fort campbell was one of the worst places to go in the early days. 40 be a and bright and one of the things that was really helpful as part of our recovery was to call attention to the gaps of the services that we sought to tell our story with the attempt to make things better for troops after us. and as part of a larger community with other veterans working together for positive change. things have changed bryan was set back to his artillery battery he should have been sent at a minimum to a medical but then there was a warrior transition in your net specifically decided -- designed for wounded warriors in those
who knew how to let them navigate the system with a medical evaluation board process more smoothly. maybe it has not worked as well as planned but they've made a lot of efforts to improve. it is an ongoing struggle to convince troops and veterans it is okay to seek help. part of that is military ease those when you grow up in a culture that tells you sucked it up and drive on pain is weakness leaving the body, plenty of time to sleep when you are dead, it is hard to put that aside to say i cannot do this by myself and i need help. the institutional military is trying to send a message that people should seek help but it doesn't always get through every level and the impression i get is some
groups face bigger challenges than others. i came from military intelligence out of concern not because they didn't want to learn clearance but now you don't have to have psychological help for combat related trauma. i just redid my paperwork it is true he don't have to report that i have been led to believe of pilots seek mental health care cannot fly that is a huge barrier for them to seek help but that is not my career field but that is what i have heard. certain groups may have bigger challenges to seeking help. the will need more senior leaders willing to stand up to say i sought help we have a few examples and we need more. anwr veterans and troops willing to say here is what i did that helped me to get better.
part of the reason i told our story and other friends parts of campaigns to say here is however a struggling here is how i am doing better to know there are multiple avenues. fed is the other message. if you bought toothpaste and hated the flavor you would not give up on brushing your teeth forever you could buy a new brand so if you try therapy and you don't stick with your therapist don't give up on mental health care try a new therapist. it can take awhile to find somebody you click with the and it can be challenging to find a good environment is the v.a. medical center is now working there are a lot of avenues to see kelp and one of them will work for you. you can find a new normal
prayer not just with ptsd but post traumatic gross. i firmly believe it is only because i saw horrible things and experienced than i am able to appreciate how privilege we are in america fully as i do. i am more connected to my fellow humans because i have seen them at their worst. it has given me a better capacity to appreciate them that their best. >> i have a question. talk about the process of reading the book he describes so vividly with a lot of dialogue events that were clearly painful over a
decade. were you keep being notes or have a photographic memory? >> i have always ben day journaler writing journal entry santa paulsen when i decided to write this book i interviewed people i was not on the bus when brian got hurt and i interviewed people who were on the bus to get their sense because his memories are a little spotty of that event. he interviewed other friends and family members that were there with us because based on what i have read human memory is fallible. eyewitness testimony is a tory is lee sketchy so rather than assuming i have a perfect memory of past decades i interviewed people to get their perception to check it against my own to
use so the combination of my own memories, what i wrote at the time and interviews to make sure i had an accurate picture as possible >> will come back. >> could you compare and contrast with brian. you we're doing it at the same time with two different experiences with transition and healing i imagine some things that were the same and what was different weird day could use support and that he could not provide support to you? they are a to parallel process. >> i feel like he needs to be here to answer that accurately. a good question. i struggled with things that
he did not experience. being invisible as a woman veteran. people would ask me if i was allowed to carry a gun and people ask me if i was in the infantry that is not authorized still although they are in the process of changing that. when we would go out to to the bar people would give the guys a free round of the unemployed get free beers they would look like men but women we don't meet that typical image is why did not get the free beer. [laughter] so that sense to be invisible is recognized native harder even with the other fat so was the only woman in the room people would assume i was just a spouse as if they don't go through plenty of their own but they would not assume automatically that i was a
veteran. once i was walking my dog in the park with a german shepherd to was hit by a car and lost a leg. an old man said was city teetwo? [laughter] do you mean teetwo? and more people have assumed my dog is a combat veteran than me. there is something messed up but he did not have to deal with that it was easier for him to come home to have people looking at him and know he was a veteran and win his hair is short to know he is a wounded veteran in the very beginning people would ask if he was driving his dad's car people did not
know but pretty quickly he was visible as a veteran and a wounded warrior if he kept his haircut short. but for me my eighth symptoms of it ptsd which is about six months that is normal when you are in a combat zone to be hyper vigilant and alert to possible danger ready to respond with the media violence and threats and it is the adaptable response keeping you alive is a good faith to be but when you come back and you drive on the bill way it is no longer adaptive to kill somebody who cuts you off in traffic is now adaptive. taiz a word with their pastrami so if you can dial
that down the fiber response back to normal levels within six months that is totally normal to take time to come back to see even keel. i still have some symptoms but i never developed ptsd and never kicked into that but it did with bright and he had the addition with the higher the fall of trauma he did develop ptsd also struggle with losing his career and cognitive function, questioning he was if he could ever be able to succeed in the world again. he turned to alcohol a lot as a coping mechanism and the alcohol abuse was a very negative aspect of his recovery.
the way that i could see it later was every bad thing build on every other bad thing with that negative downward spiral with the ptsd he could not sleep that hurts kovno to function function, that made him more depressed which made him a drink more which made us fight more and is spiraled and we had to find ways to return that the other direction leader but it to a camelot launder they add me. both the physical and psychological and cognitive. it was actually six years before he could read a book cover to cover again. at walter reed one of the case managers said it has been more than 18 months you will not see further gains.
the downside, the put side is that we but that the internal injunction against seeking help. sometimes wonder one of us had been a civilian if it would have when eased -- of the civilian might have cracked earlier and said, like, no, no. we have to go ask for help. we can't do this. in the book that think away our parallel roads to recovery. but it would be interesting to lay out a time line and see how that works. that will beat a thing to do. the other weird part of it was that one of my coping mechanisms became to be hyper controlling. like i will manage every aspect of our lives. everything will be completely perfectly organized and every moment in time. that was my way of handling the fact that things were in total crisis. and when he got better if.
to let him grow and for me to the step back. had this feeling like i was holding a cat's cradle. by let go one to read everything will fall apart and it was really, really difficult for me a throwaway, let's go and realize that in fact the world will not burn down a fine not personally responsible for. i don't know if that was helpful. >> yes. >> first, thanks for your service. but i just wanted to go back to the process and the challenges, writing this book about ptsd and reliving those old experiences and writing about reliving experiences while also sort of having to actually relive as you write. and the challenges of writing this book and sort of having to again face a lot of the same, you know, memories and experiences.
>> yeah. so i had a really good outline before i got started. it probably sounds like a weird place to begin, but i have a really solid outline and i actually knew what chapters a one. and if i could not handle something i would just put it aside and work at different chapter for a while and then circle back to it. there were definitely things that were so large that i could not engage with them right away. i would have to move on and address a different topic and then circle back later time. so that's really how i did it. and i have -- my first book came out so soon after i was in the military and so soon after i got back that i have not processed anything. i was still -- i have no empathy for the really crappy leader i had. was this matter from being crappy. at no empathy for where she was
a leader in a situation. and with this book a window of laundered. waited until it was further along his recovery and i had developed this face and emotional depth to look at the arc of his recovery. i try to do it in the middle of it would have been a disaster. i would have been man are not able to see it. i needed a have the distance in time and emotional and mental space to be able to see the full arc of his -- of our journey together and to have -- really just therapy and cope with things a lot more before engaging with it. i'm really glad that i waited before trying to write this one. >> how did having kids change or
impact all recovery process for you individually and together? >> so i -- there were a lot of years when i thought we could never have kids because the ptsd symptoms could be really bad. that's not, there is no way that i could in good conscience pricked in newborn into house where somebody has fits of race like this. we waited until he was doing really well and then finally we were like, okay, now things are good. now we can try. and then having kids ended up being more challenging than i thought it would be because i waited until i was the laundry on. but sometimes i wonder. if i were really wealthy i would fund a study on this because i think it will be a cool thing for somebody to research, but i read -- everybody pretty much knows that when women are pregnant and when they give birth and women and nursing their brains kick out tons of oxytocin, bonding chemical that
makes them like babies and not drown them very often. but apparently when men live with their partners and are exposed to the newborn's their brains to. it reduces the amount of testosterone in the brain in a totally kicks of the amount of oxytocin in the brain. for me ryan had always had a flat and affectless. he added tendency to have a cold look on his face a lot. and once we had kids that changed. like when you would look at his son, you know, his face would light up. he was warm and interactive. i don't know if that's brain chemistry or partly just that -- new ones don't judge you. like a dull, humans, we judge each other. even if we love one another there's still -- it's not a pure love the way that it is for children.
and it felt like being around our kids as babies let him feel soft again, let him feel nurturing and loving in a way that has been closed off to him and a lot of ways. he added daughter from his first marriage, but that was more fraud. i think that would be fun. some other way. i think that it really helped his recovery. al to meet reconnect with feeling tender because i worked really hard to feel tough and having children reconnected me to those feelings and feeling a greater degree of empathy, and it also made me feel more and with the tort families.
i have no empathy for army wives. some of them have the sticker on their cars. i wanted to keep their cars. nobody shoots to you. i cannot sympathize with you. once i had kids to my husband goes out of town overnight and it sucks to restock. i was like a macho, that would be hard. also like brian's parents, if i develop a lot more into the for brian's mom what it must of been like for her to have her son go war and in the wounded. i can't imagine what it's like to see a child away. >> thank you. >> thank you for coming. given voice to the minority. do you have any advice for any would-be riders that there -- veterans, military females of
want to start getting into this type? >> well, the best advice you can give is a right to my right as much as you can all the time, carry around a book and write whenever you have the opportunity because there are an effort virginities to sit down. there is an organization called the veterans writing project. and you can -- depending on where you are the help facilitate. hope you get a group of other writers, veteran writers and teach you how to share your riding with each other and evaluate. you can form a community where you can share your writing an essay space and help develop aircraft the way. there is anything i wish i had done is to do something like that senate. >> thank you. good luck.
>> your manicure looks awesome by the way. >> thank you. what comes across in the book is his injury and prognosis and eventual recovery is someone owner of. from the doctors a seems like he kept hearing he should not have survived. he should not be making the games. look at this. can you believe this guy is walking and talking. you also say in the book you don't really know what the future will hold for your family i was just wondering what your thoughts are on where brian might be in a decade. >> so it is true. when the neurosurgeon thought that brian would never be functionally independent, that he would never be able to take care of themselves cannot doubt that he might never walk again, might be consigned to a wheelchair. never want to be interesting patient.
brian is an interesting patient. the doctors would call and other doctors and the like look at him. look, he walks and talks so that solo freakish and weird. made it tougher in some ways because when brian six help, you know, are there any services to help me get further cognitive gains the response to gets is pretty much you should be happy. you're lucky to be alive and your elected to the will to do anything. why you want to do even better? just be happy with what you are. and there are a lot of rehabilitative services for people who are very high functioning. that's a gap that i don't know how anybody can bridge yet. this is not a lot of research on a. as for what the future holds the right now things are good.
we, you know, i have very high hopes that the next two decades will be good. if he can keep this ptsd well-managed, if you cannot drink too much the next two decades will be great. beyond that i don't know. the prognosis is not great for people with traumatic brain injury. the chances of people who have experienced developing early onset dementia are very high. that is something that we will always have to be concerned about, be aware of. we don't know if the ptsd could return. i talked to vietnam vets whose symptoms recurred developed. exposure to a new trigger there is still shrapnel as brain. they don't close all miscall.
pretty well protected, but you know, that is still, you know, liberal weak spot. so long term future, 30, 40 years i have no idea. might not be the best prognosis, but in going to the stay hopeful and hope that with all the high numbers of people that have come back with a drag brain injuries there will be more research and you can learn more and maybe that dod or v-8 will develop treatment that can help save off things like to mention. >> other questions show we wrap up? we have time for a least one more. we have time for one more if anybody has any questions. yes, sir.
>> problems of women and. they seem to have been pretty well neglected over a long time for my read a newspaper. could you elaborate on any of your experiences, whenever you know along that line. >> of the gentleman had a question about the specific challenges that women face a military. so a lot of the challenges that i faced when we first invaded iraq, but then not being getaways for women to your name with any amount of privacy on long convoys. some of those challenges of been overcome. there's something called the fed . the urinary device which is part of the army logistics' chain that allows women to be standing up with a little device that can stick and.
so little things like that is probably great. there were women who were modest enough that they would not drink enough water and in the urinary tract infections. the fact of women can get that which apparently anybody who's done a lot of camping is already familiar with. some of those problems of already been addressed. work to address them. women are integrated into the close combat arms unit, those personnel may need additional training. those are out there. a lot of the problems that women face in the military are not exclusive to women but disproportionately affect women the most well-known example is sexual assault in the military. women experience sexual assault of much higher rates than men. but because women are such a small minority in the military
the wrong numbers of those who experience sexual harassment or assault in the military may be roughly equivalent between men and women. so again, that's a problem that disproportionately but not exclusively affects women. and the military is struggling as hard as college campuses are right now the figure out what to do with that and how to make a dent in it, how to encourage reporting, increase rates of successful prosecution and drive down obviously the initial incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment as well. it is kind of a $64 million question. the military draws its members from society and we see with the rate case for example this is not a problem that is exclusive to the military. but i do find it conceg